17 11 / 2011
Android 4.0 will change the game
A lot of information has come out today about Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, that has really impressed me and leads me to think ICS will change everything we think about Android.
This morning I saw that ICS will prompt you to join Google+ upon activation. If you look around at all of the screenshots and videos we’ve seen from ICS in the last month, you’ll find Google+ icons everywhere in the new OS. When you view a photo, a video, or want to start a chat with your friends, Google+ is there and ready for action. Google+ appears to be a huge part of ICS and with 200 million Android devices having been activated, 100 million of those since just May, you can expect a huge surge of Google+ accounts. With all of the sharing features built-in to ICS for Google+, perhaps a number of those accounts will remain active as well. Apple boasted it’s deep Twitter integration with iOS 5, and Google is responding to that by integrating a more comprehensive social network deeply into ICS. While Google+’s usage isn’t where Twitter is today, I wonder how Twitter (and Facebook for that matter) feels about seeing Google+ so tightly integrated with an OS that will land on well over 200 million phones, tablets, and TVs in the next 6-12 months.
In the same article, it mentions that you’re also asked to enter a credit card for your Google account. This is huge news that should provide a major boost to the Android developer ecosystem. How many times have you visited the Market, found an app you wanted to buy, only to realize that you don’t have a credit card on your account? So instead of fetching your card to complete the purchase, you just hit the home button and forget about it. I’ve done this, many times. The “accounts with credit cards” metric is fantastic for both Apple and Amazon, and hopefully now Google will join the club. More people will have instant access to buy from the Market, a major reason why the Apple App Store and Amazon’s web/content business have been so successful, so there’s plenty of reason to believe Android will reap similar benefits. More developers making money means more developers creating better and better apps.
Later in the day I noticed that Google has made a solid decision in the marketing effort for ICS. While I am one of those people who like the Droid commercials from Verizon, I would also agree they’re not very useful for describing what a consumer is purchasing. They make for fun commercials, like an over-the-top Michael Bay film, but that’s about it. Google has released a series of videos outlining some of the features of ICS, all of which feature humans. These are the kinds of commercials Apple puts together to sell to the general public, not nerds like you or I, and it works, it really works.
Then I saw that Android.com had received an overhaul to become more consumer friendly. In the past this page was mostly geared towards developers and now it’s serving the purpose it really needs to serve. The Galaxy Nexus page at google.com/nexus received a big overhaul as well, also focused on consumer friendly information about the new flagship Android device. These consumer focused efforts haven’t really existed for Android previously, and I’m glad Google is realizing the need to focus at least some marketing efforts on being consumer friendly. This won’t change the Droid commercials, for obvious reasons, but it’s a positive step for the flagship device and for the platform itself.
Tonight The Verge published their review of the Galaxy Nexus. The review was done by Joshua Topolsky, someone I would typically classify as being firmly in the Apple camp. His review was overwhelmingly positive but what stands out most to me is he gave each the software and performance a 10. While he doesn’t classify it as a perfect device, mostly due to the camera not being quite on par with the iPhone 4S, which is really a great camera I have to say. He does provide some great quotes for the Android faithful:
The Galaxy Nexus is the best Android phone ever made. It’s one of the best smartphones ever made, and with a couple of minor tweaks (particularly to the camera), it could be the best smartphone ever produced.
Still, there’s really not much to knock here. The hardware is elegant and smartly designed. The software is beautiful and useful. Google has cleaned up a lot of the bad, and replaced it with a serious amount of good. It’s faster, smarter, and a lot more friendly than any of its predecessors. Ice Cream Sandwich easily gives iOS and Windows Phone a run for their money, and in many ways, it’s a superior operating system than either of them.
Android is maturing, quickly. Google is boosting their social network by integrating it more deeply into the Android OS and having people sign up when they activate a new device. They’re making the purchasing process more frictionless by having people enter payment details upon activation. They’re refining their marketing effort such that your average consumer will grasp it and enjoy it. They’ve evolved an excellent base OS to a more consistent, performant, and responsive platform where even the harshest of critics are praising it. Android, the platform with over 200 million activations, the OS we already love, got an order of magnitude better in just under a year. Are you excited yet?